Baltimore Montessori Conference Program Information
April 1, 2017
The first annual Baltimore Montessori Conference will be held at Greenspring Montessori School, located at 10807 Tony Drive, Lutherville-Timonium, MD. View the schedule and workshop information below.
|8:00 – 9:00am||Registration|
|9:00 – 10:15am||Welcome and Keynote
“Self-Construction, Normalization, and Neuroscience” with Julia Volkman
|10:30am – 12:00pm||Session I Workshops|
|12:00 – 1:00pm||Lunch – included in registration|
|1:00 – 2:15pm||Session II Workshops|
|2:30 – 3:30pm||Session III Workshops|
Reserve your space today by filling out the Registration Form. To learn more about the workshops, please scroll down this page.
Keynote: “Self-Construction, Normalization, and Neuroscience” with Julia Volkman
Dr. Montessori said, “The knowledge of the little child’s mental development has to become widely diffused, for only then will education be able to speak with a new voice.” Join us as we delve into the science behind human development and how it relates to Montessori’s view of self-construction and normalization. What is meant by plasticity and how is that connected with the child’s effort? How do emotions, relationships, and inspiration influence cognition? What is the role of executive functions? How can we apply this knowledge wisely as we lead our children to normalization via freedom with limits? This keynote will offer you hands-on strategies to bring back to your prepared environments and leave you with contagious inspiration to fully embody Dr. Montessori’s teachings.
Julia Volkman is finishing her Masters degree at Harvard University where she is researching the movable alphabet. She is the founder of Maitri Learning, a recurring teaching assistant in Harvard’s Neuroscience of Learning course, a consultant for the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, a Montessori mentor, and the mother of two standard-issue and utterly unique humans. (www.maitrilearning.com)
- “Self-Construction and Emerging Identity Development for the Child, Adolescent, and Adult” with Jen Cort
- “Montessori Guide and Assistant: Sustaining a Healthy Relationship” with Kathy Minardi
- “Nurture and Independence Working Together for Children Birth – 3” with Allison Manuel
- “Making the Most of the Movable Alphabet” with Cathie Perolman
- “Health and Wellness for the Upper Elementary Child and Adolescent” with Christina Heffner and Elliot Dickson
“Self-Construction and Emerging Identity Development for the Child, Adolescent, and Adult” with Jen Cort
(Infant/Toddler, Early Childhood, Elementary, Adolescents, Admin, Parents)
Our experiences with identity development is evolving rapidly as constructs such as gender identity are changing, particularly with the narratives around the recent election. This session will knit together the conference theme of Self-Construction and the understanding of emerging identity development for children, adolescents, and adults.
Jen Cort has spent the past 25 years in schools working with students in grades PK – 12 as a counselor, health educator, diversity advocate, and administrator. Her training as a clinical social worker with a concentration in schools propelled her to work as a school counselor with all grade levels, focusing on preventative and responsive program development and support. She has served as a senior administrator in the roles of Director of Student Support Services (overseeing health and wellness, PK-12), Assistant Head of Lower School and Middle School Head. Most recently, she has begun consulting in schools on a variety of topics with a consistent theme on diversity education for students, parents, and faculty. Jen is also offering a session at the most recent AMI Refresher Course, in Texas, on deepening one’s understanding of student, faculty, and parent diversity. (www.jencort.com)
“Montessori Guide and Assistant: Sustaining a Healthy Relationship” with Kathy Minardi
(Infant/Toddler, Early Childhood, Elementary, Adolescents, Assistants, Admin)
In complexity science, a Montessori classroom might be described as “operating on the edge of chaos.” Almost anything can emerge among a large group of multi-age children on a given day. The relationship between the two adults in that environment must be flexible, adaptive, coherent, energized, and stable; the 5 qualities of well-being. This program looks at the professional roles of the Montessori Guide and Assistant, and the characteristics of a healthy professional relationship between them in the context of their roles in an organic Montessori prepared environment. We will discuss the framework and tools for acquiring such a relationship, and sustaining it over the course of the school year and/or beyond. Participants get a chance to practice several communication methods that are effective in sustaining relationships.
Kathy Minardi has been an educator for forty-eight years, forty of which have been as a Montessori school leader. She recently retired from Aidan Montessori School in Washington, DC, one of the oldest Montessori schools in the US, and is a global consultant and workshop leader for Montessori schools and leaders. She holds a BA from St. Olaf College, an MA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and holds transformational leadership and facilitation executive certificates from Georgetown University, Harvard, and MIT. She holds a certificate in Peacemaking Circle Process for Conflict Resolution and is an experienced circle facilitator. She is a trainer for NAMTA’s Whole School Management courses, former vice president of the AIMS board of trustees, and a coach/consultant for the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Kathy’s primary focus is in helping schools become healthy communities where adult interactions among each other are congruent with Montessori principles and the school’s mission and values.
“Nurture and Independence Working Together for Children Birth – 3” with Allison Manuel
What does it look like to provide respectful caregiving for the youngest infants while offering them opportunities for independence and participation? We will explore the RIE® principles and how they intersect with our Montessori knowledge and thus what it means to trust in an infant’s competence while providing an attuned responsive presence with specific practices for caregivers and teachers who work with children birth – 3 years old.
Allison Manuel is an Infant/Toddler Montessori (AMI) teacher in Washington, DC and has a Masters in Education in Birth-3. She fell in love with RIE® after the birth of her first child and is integrating the Educaring ® principles into life with her second child. She teaches parent-infant classes in Washington, DC, provides home consultations on the Educaring® and Montessori approaches and is a yoga teacher. She is grateful to her mentors Ruth Anne Hammond and Beverly Kovach for helping her to bring more of the RIE® world to the east coast. She is most passionate about helping parents find the balance between nurture and independence for the youngest children, adopting the motto from Ruth Anne Hammond that “independence should never be a burden” but only a pleasure.
“Making the Most of the Movable Alphabet” with Cathie Perolman
Come and explore a variety of ways to engage children using the Movable Alphabet. From building the objects on the Science Table to building favorite song lyrics and finger plays to building the names of the “parts of” puzzles, whether you are a new or experienced guide, you will see a wealth of slides showing “real life” Movable Alphabet work from across the Montessori curriculum. This workshop will help you learn to think more extensively about the potential uses for Movable Alphabet work. You will come away with a variety of real-life ideas that you can suggest to children to encourage fun and creative ways for so much more than just spelling phonetic objects and pictures. We will look at ideas for children who are just beginning to build words all the way through those who are strong writers. This workshop has ideas for everyone!
Cathie Perolman has been involved in education for over three decades. She has a BS in Early Childhood Education and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education with a concentration in Reading. She has worked as a reading specialist, public school elementary teacher and Montessori professional. She began her Montessori journey as a classroom assistant, and has worked as a classroom Directress, 3-6 Team Leader, Teacher Trainer, and college level instructor.
Cathie is the author of Practical Special Needs for the Montessori Method: A Handbook for 3-6 Teachers and Homeschoolers and the creator of “Hands on Phonics”, a phonics based system of teaching reading to young children. She is a regular contributor to “Tomorrow’s Child” and “Montessori Leadership” magazines. Cathie currently conducts workshops for teachers and administrators, works as a teacher trainer for various training centers across the country and as a school consultant. She currently teaches a Primary class at Nurturing Nest Montessori School in Columbia, MD. Cathie has been married for 36 years and has two adult children and two adorable granddaughters! (www.cathieperolman.com)
“Health and Wellness for the Upper Elementary Child and the Adolescent” with Christina Heffner and Elliot Dickson
(Elementary, Adolescents, Parents)
Health and wellness are critical topics to introduce, discuss, and practice with adolescents. As health and wellness are not topics explored in Montessori training programs, this conference session directly addresses how to engage students in these areas through discussion and experience. Conference participants will be introduced to Greenspring’s Adolescent Health & Wellness curriculum by participating in activities and reflecting on effective practices in the following areas: journaling, physical expression, mindfulness exercises, personal expression, goal setting, and decision making concerning sexual health, mental health, and the use of drugs and alcohol. Participants will leave with an understanding of the importance of engaging adolescents in these topics and concrete practices to implement with their own communities.
Christina Heffner has been a Montessori Guide for 13 years. She is an AMS trained elementary Guide and a NAMTA trained adolescent Guide. She has worked in both public and independent Montessori schools, including a school in Indonesia.
Elliot Dickson has been teaching for 13 years in independent schools, with a strong focus on middle and high school science and health. He is happy to have discovered Montessori after receiving his Masters in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education.
- “Aiding Independence as an Assistant” (sessions II & III) with Julia Volkman
- “Meaningful Parenting in a Rapidly Changing Society” (sessions II & III) with Jen Cort
- “Embracing Tough Conversations with Parents – Shifting the Paradigm from Trepidation to Ease” with Betsy Wimbrow and Bonnie Allen
- “Art in the Toddler Classroom” with Beth Callahan and Michelle Donohue
- “Incorporating Dramatic Performance into the Upper Elementary Curriculum” with Jackie Savage
- “Spark Your Classroom Sensorial Area” with Marie Conti
“Aiding Independence as an Assistant” with Julia Volkman – Double Session
(Early Childhood Assistants)
Assistant teachers play a vital role in healthy child development. In this hands-on workshop, we will explore not only the global role of the assistant, but also offer specific procedures and practices for working with the young child. How can we be an aid to their independence and a scaffold for their learning? When should we intervene and when should we pause? When we have to step in, how can we do it skillfully? Join us for a rich and engaging two and a half hours of community lessons and practice that will help you in your work with the whole room as well as with the individual child. Specific spoken language, preliminary exercises, and grace and courtesy lessons will be offered and practiced.
Julia Volkman is finishing her Masters at Harvard University where she is researching the movable alphabet. She is the founder of Maitri Learning, a recurring teaching assistant in Harvard’s Neuroscience of Learning course, a consultant for the National Center for Montessori in the Public Sector, a Montessori mentor, and the mother of two standard-issue and utterly unique humans. (www.maitrilearning.com)
“Meaningful Parenting in a Rapidly Changing Society” with Jen Cort – Double Session
Parents today are raising children with paradigms that did not exist 20 years ago. This leaves us without a frame of reference for remembering and reacting to our own parents’ practices with us. Exploring the new frontiers and understanding provides parents with a frame of reference for informing their parenting practices. The paradigms to be addressed are: sports as a culture, communication, diversity and inclusivity, devices and technology, and changes in the onset of preadolescence.
Jen Cort has spent the past 25 years in schools working with students in grades PK – 12 as a counselor, health educator, diversity advocate, and administrator. Her training as a clinical social worker with a concentration in schools propelled her to work as a school counselor with all grade levels, focusing on preventative and responsive program development and support. She has served as a senior administrator in the roles of Director of Student Support Services (overseeing health and wellness, PK-12), Assistant Head of Lower School and Middle School Head. Most recently, she has begun consulting in schools on a variety of topics with a consistent theme on diversity education for students, parents, and faculty. Jen is also offering a session at the most recent AMI Refresher Course, in Texas, on deepening understanding of student, faculty, and parent diversity.
“Embracing Tough Conversations with Parents – Shifting the Paradigm from Trepidation to Ease” with Betsy Wimbrow and Bonnie Allen
(Infant/Toddler, Early Childhood, Elementary, Adolescents, Admin)
We’ve all been there; we need to share information with parents about their child that has the potential to cause alarm. How do we do this graciously and in a way that engages parents and promotes partnership? Participants will examine the importance of establishing a rapport with parents early on, and specifically, of understanding a parent’s perspective when hearing difficult news. We will step through a student support process that encourages and supports clear and effective communication between parents, teachers, and other involved parties, while keeping the focus on the central question; “Are we serving the child?”
Betsy Wimbrow is a lifelong Montessorian. Over her 33 year career she has served in many roles in both the public and private sectors, including teacher, parent, literacy leader, consultant, teacher trainer, mentor, and program director. She is currently the Director of Education at Greenspring Montessori School. As Director of Education, she provides support, guidance, inspiration, and continuing education to the staff, parents, and other constituents in Montessori philosophy, best practices, and current child development theory. Betsy holds both an AMS Early Childhood and AMS EL1 credential, and a Masters of Education.
Bonnie Allen followed a roundabout path to her current position as the Learning Specialist at Greenspring Montessori School. She began her career as a pediatric physical therapist over 25 years ago, rapidly discovering that to be an effective clinician, an understanding of the whole child is needed. She has pursued coursework in a wide variety of topics, from sensory integration and neurodevelopmental treatment to executive dysfunction and the Orton-Gillingham approach. Bonnie discovered Montessori when seeking a preschool for her child, and found the method in harmony with her own philosophy of working with children. In her current role, she draws upon this eclectic background to support children’s development in the Montessori classroom.
“Art in the Toddler Classroom” with Beth Callahan and Michelle Donohue
Preparing an environment for children’s independent growth applies to every area of our curriculum. In a Montessori classroom, the art curriculum looks different from that of other schools. Our young children work with paint, glue and sculpting dough in a way that helps them to create themselves. These activities are designed to foster independence and freedom of choice. Participants will explore child-centered techniques and materials that can be integrated into their classrooms.
Beth Callahan has been a Montessorian for most of her life. She began at Greenspring Montessori School in 1986, serving as a toddler guide, parent, admissions director, and after-school programs director. Most recently, Beth has returned to the toddler classroom in one of her most loved roles.
Michelle Donohue began her Montessori career in 2004 as the art enrichment guide for children ages 6 to 14 at Greenspring Montessori School. She soon transitioned to the role of toddler guide, deepening her commitment to Montessori practices. Michelle continues to incorporate art into her toddler classroom, with a deep focus on child-led activities.
“Incorporating Dramatic Performance into the Upper Elementary Curriculum” with Jackie Savage
How can you harness the dramatic energy of Upper Elementary students in meaningful and manageable ways? This workshop will share three low-cost, student-driven performance opportunities: a Shakespeare play, Biography Day, and a Wax Museum, explaining how to plan, organize, and execute these events. Whether you are a seasoned dramatist or don’t know your stage left from your stage right, there will be something in this presentation for you!
Jackie Savage, M.Ed, is an Upper Elementary teacher at the Montessori School of Northern Virginia in Annandale, VA. She earned her AMI Montessori certification from WMI and has been teaching for over ten years.
“Spark Your Classroom Sensorial Area” with Marie Conti
Are the cubes, prisms and shapes, and boxes of Sensorial materials not calling to the children in your class as much as you would like? Do you need some new ideas to draw the children back to this rich area of the classroom or to enhance their sensorial experience? Come learn about extensions and variations of the foundational lessons and discover new activities to enhance the various senses, especially the visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, and stereognostic. Through a visual presentation and hands-on experiences, participants will learn new and exciting ways to use the materials, will be introduced to parallel materials and activities, and will explore new methods for involving the child’s use of all the senses throughout the indoor and outdoor environments.
Marie Conti is the Head of The Wetherill School in Gladwyne, PA and a member of the board of directors of the American Montessori Society. Marie taught in Montessori Early Childhood classes for 25 years before joining AMS as Senior Director of School Accreditation and Member Programs from 2007-2012. Marie is an instructor at the Chestnut Hill College Montessori Teacher Education Program in Philadelphia where she also served as intern supervisor, and program director in the past. Marie also teaches Montessori Philosophy for the Montessori Institute of Teacher Education in DE. She served as Early Childhood Education Director at Wilmington Montessori School in Wilmington, DE from 2005-2007. Marie has been a frequent presenter at national and local conferences including the American Montessori Society, NAEYC, DVAEYC, and The Montessori Foundation.
- “Aiding Independence as an Assistant” (continued from session 2)
- “Meaningful Parenting in a Rapidly Changing Society” (continued from session 2)
- “Meeting the Needs of the 3 Year Old in the Toddler Environment” with Erin McCallum and Erin Conway
- “Brain Food: Understanding Childhood Brain Development in the Context of Modern Dietary Problems and Possible Supportive Strategies” with Dr. Christos Balis and Tamara Sheesley Balis
- “Creating a Fully Engaged School Community” with Shanie Nelson and Stephen Abrams
- “Differing Learning Styles in a Montessori Classroom” with Gaye Novak
“Meeting the Needs of the Three Year Old in the Toddler Environment” with Erin Conway and Erin McCallum
(Infant/Toddler, Early Childhood, Admin)
The three-year old has an important role in the Toddler environment – just as important as the kindergartner in the Primary level. However, sometimes, as the toddler child moves towards 3 ½ years, they seem to have new needs in the environment. Often parents and teachers believe the only option is to move them in the middle of the school year. Instead of taking them out of their environment and moving them into a Primary environment that is in “full swing”, we will talk about the new roles that the older toddler can emerge into and materials that will challenge them socially, emotionally, and academically. We will also discuss the ways to communicate this role to the parents.
Erin McCallum received her AMS Infant/Toddler certification in 1996 and has worked as a Toddler Head Teacher (at Pennington Montessori and then Montessori Cottage) since then. She is currently Membership Committee Chair for the PA Montessori Teachers Association.
Erin Conway (AMS I/T Certification) is the co-founder and owner of Montessori Cottage. She taught at the Toddler level for 12 years before moving into administration full time. In addition to running Montessori Cottage Erin teaches at Princeton Center for Teacher Education, is the Director at the new Gladwyne Teacher Education Program, she is an Adjunct Professor at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia as well as a Stakeholder at the Think Tank for the PA Department of Child Development and Early Learning. Erin holds a Masters in Education and has been a Montessori educator for 25 years.
“Brain Food: Understanding Childhood Brain Development in the Context of Modern Dietary Problems and Possible Supportive Strategies” with Christos Balis and Tamara Sheesley Balis
This workshop begins with a survey of different age children from birth to early 20’s, describing how their unique developmental stages impact their nutritional needs. We will consider cultural norms of dietary nutrition for children and launch the inquiry that these dietary norms support or undermine efforts to optimize proper brain development and children’s opportunity to learn. We will review a record of proven classroom, home, and community-based solutions that make transforming children’s nutrition a real possibility for every concerned parent and educator.
Dr. Christos Balis, DC specializes in natural health and wellness, via complementary, alternative, and traditional medicines as a chiropractor in his 21st year of private practice. Dr. Balis has completed advanced training, recognition and certification in Upledger CranioSacral Therapy (1992), Applied Kinesiology (diplomate, 1998), Network Spinal Analysis (certification 2000), TCM Acupuncture (licensed w fellowship, 2001), and Biologic Terrain Management (Certified Instructor, 2004). Dr. Balis has also published several papers on the use of diet and nutrition in clinical practice (ex, CAM/BTM Management of a Juvenile Heart Transplant, EXPLORE! for the Professional, www.explorepub.com), and enjoys speaking up for everyday nutritional common sense.
Tamara Sheesley Balis has an extensive background in Montessori education, school administration, and childhood development. Currently, Tamara is the Head of School at Greenspring Montessori School. Prior to this, she served for four years as the Head of School at the Amherst Montessori School in Amherst, Massachusetts, as the Director of the Boyd School’s Reston Campus, the Lower Elementary Directress at the Henson Valley Montessori School, and as a bi-lingual elementary public school Teacher in the Teach for America program. Tamara also wrote, narrated and produced an educational DVD on using Montessori principles for the care of infants in the home. Additionally, she has presented at National Montessori conferences and is a Montessori classroom consultant. She has also been a contributing author for Washington Families Magazine, publishing articles on Montessori education, child development, and parenting.
“Creating a Fully-Engaged School Community” with Shanie Nelson and Stephen Abrams
Explore how to create a cohesive relationship between the Admissions and Development offices resulting in the offices working in tandem to foster a community where parents, teachers, grandparents, and caregivers feel engaged, connected, and invested. The presenters will show how transparency and intentional culture building through feedback, education, and partnership can strengthen a school community.
Shanie Nelson is the Director of Advancement at Greenspring Montessori School where she oversees fundraising efforts, school-wide events, our Parent Association, and so much more. Shanie received BS degrees in Accounting and Finance from Northeastern University, earned her CPA certification, and worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers for 12 years. She transitioned into Human Resources while working for PricewaterhouseCoopers and spent three years in HR consulting after leaving the firm. Shanie has two children who attend Greenspring, one in Lower Elementary and one in the Adolescent Community.
After graduating from Towson University with a BA in Mass Communications, Stephen Abrams began his career working in the Admissions Office and teaching history at his high school alma mater, McDonogh School in Owings Mills, MD. Stephen is now the Director of Admissions at Greenspring Montessori School. Stephen also serves on the Board of Directors for Charm City Youth Lacrosse League in Baltimore and coaches club and varsity lacrosse in Baltimore area.
“Differing Learning Styles in a Montessori Classroom” with Gaye Novak
(Early Childhood, Elementary)
Recognizing and working with various learning styles is something all Montessori teachers do in order to reach a child’s full potential. The objectives of this workshop are to identify differing styles, determine your own learning style in order to be more understanding of how others may learn, and gather ways and means to address each learning style. Additionally, Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence will be explored and discussed with the goal being to improve education by assessing each student’s profiles and teaching accordingly.
Gaye Novak has been in Montessori since 1993, starting out as an Assistant for a year, taking her Early Childhood training at MCMS in 1994, and teaching for five years before opening her own Montessori school in which she both taught and was Head of School. After eleven years, she sold the school, taught “Working with Children” at CM Wright High School, and then returned to a Montessori classroom for an additional three years. She is currently the Director of Human Resources and manager of the compliance department for a Montessori school with campuses in both Harford and Baltimore counties. She taught Child Development, Management of a Child Care Facility, and Classroom Management at Harford Community College for several years, where she also worked as a workshop presenter.
Register for the first annual Baltimore Montessori Conference
Click the link below to register for the Baltimore Montessori Conference on Saturday, April 1, 2017.